Cayce Zavaglia’s Incredibly Real Embroidered Portraits That Look Like Paint

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American artist Cayce Zavaglia considers herself a painter.  “Although the medium employed is crewel embroidery wool, the technique borrows more from the worlds of drawing and painting”, the artist comments on her statement.

Manipulating color, especially paint with a brush, is obviously easier than manipulating color with varying wool strings and needles. That seems kind of impossible, don’t you think? Zavaglia makes it looks like a seamless process, laborious but not too difficult to actually achieve.

“Initially, working with an established range of wool colors proved frustrating.”

Painterly portraits demand for loose brushstrokes and intermingling colors, varying tones, and contrasting hues; creating a technique that would allow her to do this with wool strings was something that Zavaglia struggled with. However, with time, she came up with a system of sewing the threads in a sequence that would ultimately give the allusion of a certain color or tone. The system allowed for the threads to mimic the depth,volume, and form that we are familiar with in paintings and color drawings.

My work unabashedly nods its head to the tradition of tapestry and my own love of craft. Using wool instead of oils has allowed me to broaden the dialogue between portrait and process as well as propose a new definition for the word “painting”.

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Jan Fabre’s Macabre Remake Of The Pieta By Michelangelo

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I’m sure you recognize the reference here. In case you were in doubt, the Belgian artist Jan Fabre is reinterpreting the most iconic work of the renaissance, Michelangelo’s Pietà.

Michelangelo’s famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion.

Fabre’s interpretation gets personal, a little macabre, and a bit controversial…

In his rendition, Fabre places himself as Jesus with a butterfly perched on the side of his mouth. The heavy, dead-looking body wears a crisp, classy but torn suite. A closer look reveals a scarab at the edge of his cuff that is slowly drifting off towards the artist’s lifeless hand, which is tenuously holding on to a human brain.

The Virgin Mary’s face is replaced by a skull, which many would say is a reference to the Vanitas, the universal symbol of death.

The work was shown in Venice in 2011. This was in close relation to, but not a part of the 54th edition of the Venice Biennale. Given the place and the country (a very religious one) in which it was shown, you can image the controversy it created. The artist commented on the matter:

“is not to convey a blasphemous or even merely or provocative message. This work represents a “performance sculpture” that illustrates a mother’s real feelings when she yearns to take the place of her dead son.”

(via Exhibitionism and Flanders News)

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Kevin Cooley’s Stunning Photographs Of Fire And Smoke

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Kevin Cooley creates Controlled Burns, a series of striking images that showcase swirling and imposing clouds of black, white, and gray smoke. Inspired by the communicative purpose of smoke signals during Papal conclave, the series focuses on ideas and actions dealing with communication, specifically human interactions with nature.

Cooley creates and manufactures the images himself, the smoke is real, and so is the fire creating it, but the artist here is rendering an image, controlling it and taking charge of something that can potentially be uncontrollable. The project is indicative of something we are well aware of, particularly our impotence yet possibility to control natural, powerful elements in our world. The paradox makes us contemplate on something we know, but do not really think about often.

Fire is a powerful natural force that we harness for greater good, and it is the only Classical element that we can create on demand. Yet, when out of control, it has the potential for grave destruction. Controlled Burns is a visual representation of this inherit duality, symbolic of our desire to conquer and control, reminding us that sometimes we must fight fire with fire.

Beginning January 11th, 2014, the Kopeikin Gallery will present Cooley’s work in UNEXPLORED TERRITORY, an interdisciplinary exhibition that explores “the limits of human exploration and our desire to conquer and control nature.” Themes range from colonial exploration of the American West, harnessing fire in the form of combustion to launch rockets into space, to anthropomorphic actions of everyday objects such as box fans, and helium balloons.

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You Won’t Believe The Stunning Portraits Kumi Yamashita Creates Out Of Nails And Thread

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You might remember Kumi Yamashita from one of our October posts featuring her extraordinary collection of works with light and shadow. If you recall, Yamashita subtly manipulated materials such as paper, fabric and wood to strategically use lighting on them in order to create shadow art installations. Her imagination and impressive craft skills lead her to create this new ongoing series entitled Constellation (a title that references the Greek tradition of tracing mythical figures in the sky).

This body of work consists of three materials: a wooden panel painted a solid white, thousands of small galvanized nails, and a single, unbroken, common sewing thread. She creates these stunning portraits by using the single,unbroken thread wrapped around thousands of nails. The task at hand is laborious, but the result is well worth the work.

The Japanese artist’s piece from this collection, Mana (an 40h x 30w cm portrait of her niece), was recently selected as one of 50 finalists for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, a triennial event being held at the Smithsonian Museum’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Yamashita’s artwork was selected from over 3,000 entries and is on display at the National Portrait Gallery until February 23, 2014. (via Twisted Sifter)

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SpY Installs 150 Security Cameras On One Building. You Won’t Believe What They Catch On Camera!

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SpY, an urban/graffiti artist, installed 150 fake security cameras on a building façade in Madrid, Spain. The piece, titled CAMERAS, has no intention of watching over anything, the cameras are simply on the wall for show, rather, to make a statement about excessive surveillance in today’s world. As his website states, “SpY’s s work involves the appropriation urban elements through transformation or replication, commentary on urban reality, and the interference in its communicative codes.”

The repetitiveness, and overwhelming saturation of the cameras, imposes critical questions about cameras of any sort in our lives. Whether that might be security cameras, to a personal camera, to the camera on your phone or computer, we are surrounded by them in our urban landscape and personal space,they questions is: what are they really filming?

Cameras signify the documentation of something important, a bad or good event, but definitely not something mundane. If we are surrounded by cameras, we are also surrounded by the expectations of something grand, something bad or good always happening. This is too much of a burden.

SpY’s pieces want to be a parenthesis in the automated inertia of the urban dweller. They are pinches of intention, hidden in a corner for whoever wants to let himself be surprised. Filled with equal parts of irony and positive humor, they appear to raise a smile, incite reflection, and to favor an enlightened conscience.

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Richard Ankrom’s Kinky Juxtapositions Of S&M Wear And Cute Ceramic Figurines

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Childrens’ Pop Culture icons and S&M…who wouldn’t want to see that twisted combination come to life?

Playing with this juicy idea, Richard Ankrom juxtaposes the familiar and the innocent with the unlikely and devilish by creating the figurines you see here. From a masked Tinkerbell and Cinderella, to a naughty bust of Gone in the Wind’s leads, Ankrom captures conflicting, yet hysterical imagery by combining iconic visuals of our childhood idols and S&M gadgetry.

These sculptures were exhibited at the Aqua Art Miami this year, and while we missed it on our trip to Miami, we gathered a couple of sentences from the artist’s statement on this work:

‘The contempt for effusive sentimental goods, that pander to nostalgic consumers led me to take these objects and disable them. In this process mass produced figurines become individual and surreal.  These ideas are in conjunction with Duchamp’s ready-mades, Rauschenberg’s erased de Kooning, Paul McCarthy and Jeff Koons.’

Ankrom also explains that the ‘objects are selected by their character, cleaned, masked, dipped or poured several times with synthetic rubber. Zippers are tucked in with dental tools and sealed with rubber, and some zippers are painted gold.’

(via Lost At E Minor)

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Frank Marshal’s Journey Into The Heavy Metal Subculture Of Sub-Saharan Africa

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Renegades, a photographic series by Frank Marshal, captures the Heavy Metal subculture in Sub-Saharan Africa.

As we know, Heavy Metal audiences have traditionally been Caucasian and Eurocentric. All of these things, however, are not an obvious description of Sub-Saharan Africa. Marshall’s portraits offer a vision of an unlikely Heavy Metal subculture in Botswana, his subjects are an anomaly, a reaction to a strictly occidental genre. Marshall aptly labels his subjects as renegades, as he renders portraits of rebellious individuals who form part of “an ulterior, emergent rootedness where traditional identities and political histories in Botswana are subverted”. Furthermore, Marshal’s portraits break down established archetypes of ethnicity, cultural identity, and ideology. These individuals are on the fringe of a society that is already situated within the ‘geographical and ideological’ space of the Other, meaning that they are already viewed as exotic by the Occident.

The peculiar thing here is, that we see the ‘Other’ under an completely unpredictable light.

Tribe-like, Heavy Metal possesses an unconscious sense of brotherhood that transcends race and nationality in the context of Renegades. So too, Marshall’s renegades unpack popular stereotypes, transcending traditions, blurring the boundaries between liberty and fraternity, helping to delineate the power structures inherent to Heavy Metal, which may be misinterpreted as a trace of an oppressive past. This is in keeping with the extremism of Heavy Metal ideology, embracing anything that popular culture finds unacceptable.

(via Rooke Gallery)

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Kar­ley Feaver’s Stuffed Birds With Bizarre Haircuts

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New Zealand-based artist Kar­ley Feaver creates assemblages that involve a mix­ture of stuffed birds and various costume-like adornment ( human hair, gold plated metal, wood, and more). The artist claims that the animals she uses are ethically sourced and have died of natural causes.

Through her grotesque yet beautiful sculptures, the artist explores the idea of trans­for­ma­tion and adorn­ment, as her cur­rent inter­ests rest in nature’s abil­ity to sur­vive in dif­fer­ent forms by adapt­ing, adjust­ing, and mutat­ing into an increas­ingly man-made environment.

She intends to make these birds look other-worldly. Interestingly enough, she is successful at doing this by using materials that we are very familiar with (human hair, gold, and wood). She makes an interesting juxtaposition between the natural and the unnatural, the familiar and the unfamiliar- specifically to make a point about the unnatural efforts animals (in general) have to make in order to survive in a man-made environment.

Through the ages peo­ple have made beau­ti­ful things for them­selves and oth­ers by using mate­ri­als from their nearby envi­ron­ment. Birds are known to do the same, espe­cially when seek­ing to attract a mate. Feaver’s new works bring the image of beauty almost to the edge of absur­dity, their appear­ance is both bizarre and extra­or­di­nary, unlike any other crea­ture on earth.

(via Brown Paper Bag)

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